Student debt raises health risks, lowers GPA

9:22 PM, Jul 27, 2006   |    comments
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Results are in from the latest study by the Public Interest Research Group and the findings indicate student debt far outpaces the increase in the cost of living in the Twin Cities. "Today's students are saddled by debt, which has risen 107% over the past decade," says Scott Formo, President of the Minnesota State College Student Association. As a result, Formo says, "(Students) primary consideration now upon graduation is where to find the money to repay their loans." Carolyn Yernberg graduated last year from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Landscape Design. She says after being laid off from a job in her field, she returned to the waitressing job that helped finance her undergraduate education. Yernberg says with mounting debt and just the regular monthly expenses she had no choice but to find work immediately after being layed off. "I ended up coming back here, which is weird because I make more here than I did at my fulltime job," says Yernberg. The research indicates healthcare costs rose 58% in the past decade, while the cost of living rose 35% for the same period. However, the increase in student debt from loans jumped a whopping 107%. Ryan Simatic is with the Public Interest Research Group and says, "The solution lies in managing the tuition costs here at the U." David Golden, Director of Public Health and Marketing at the University of Minnesota's Boynton Health Service Center, says at least three different student surveys have been conducted on the topic of student debt in the past three years. This past spring, a Boynton Health Services survey focused on credit card debt. "We looked at students who are carrying high debt on their credit cards. They tend to have other problems, they are much more likely to be diagnosed with depression, tend to have higher rates of high risk drinking, higher smoking rates. Also we noticed an association between when their debt goes up, their GPA tends to go down," says Golden. Golden says there are no hard and fast solutions to offer students, but some measures have been taken by the university. For starters, credit card companies are no longer allowed to set up tables in the student union hall to attract new cardholders. He also says a special financial advisor has been hired by Health Services to talk and counsel students on credit card debt. By Rondah Kinchlow, KARE 11 News.

(Copyright 2006 by KARE 11. All Rights Reserved.)

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